Post-Tennessee game quotes

March 1, 2009

Recap | Box Score

No. 19 Vanderbilt 66 – Tennessee 75
March 1, 2009 – Thompson-Boling Arena — Knoxville, Tenn.
Attendance: 14,157

Melanie Balcomb, Vanderbilt Head Coach

(On the positives and negatives she will take from the game):
“A positive is I think we fought hard the entire game. I’m really proud of our effort. I think people stepped up and did everything that we asked them to do. A negative was just rebounding. It really came to rebounding. They really pounded the glass and we just didn’t get the job done on the boards. I think that was the difference in the game because I think we beat them in a lot of other areas. The other huge positive was points off turnovers, 23-6. I think that’s a really good effort.”

(On the development of Lady Vol redshirt freshman center Kelley Cain):
“It’s much harder to guard her; I don’t think she missed a shot (Cain went 7-of-8). She’s deadly because she’s so much bigger than everybody else and I’ve got a 5-8 kid trying to guard her. I think they all rebounded: Fuller, Johnson and Cain. I think we gave up too many rebounds to all three of them, not just Kelley Cain.”

(On what she thought of the orange blazers the Lady Vol coaching staff sported for the game):
“They just said they lost a bet. It made me laugh. In the summer we’ll talk about it. I enjoy Pat and her staff. They do a great job and we have a respectful relationship. We were just keeping it light. I think she should get some orange shoes to match though.”

(On the shooting of Lady Vols Angie Bjorklund and Shekinna Stricklen):
“I don’t think it was that much about the three or if they shoot the pull-up off the dribble. They’re both great one-on-one players. When the play breaks down or they’re not getting anything on the offense, they have two unbelievable one-on-one players that make plays. They’re very good at it every game and they are very tough to guard.”

Vanderbilt Players

Christina Wirth, wing

(On Tennessee shutting down Vanderbilt’s dribble penetration):
“I think in the first meeting this year we did get a lot of dribble penetration. Traditionally, Vanderbilt is more of a shooting team, but we’re becoming more versatile and we have a lot more players that can take you off the dribble. So it’s harder to guard and then you can kick it out to the shooters. Unfortunately we didn’t shoot that well from three tonight. But good shooters keep shooting and I have confidence in all of our players. It was a great job by drivers getting us open looks.”

Pat Summitt, Tennessee Head Coach

(on wearing orange):
“That’s all I’m wearing for the rest of the season.”

(opening remarks):
“I thought this was one of our best games of the season because we had good balance. Alex Fuller was terrific. She was 6-for-13 and had 14 rebounds. She has been a great leader. Today was a big day for her. She’s one of the best all-around leaders that we’ve had, and I was proud for her. Shekinna Stricklen stepped up. She was sluggish at first, but when she stepped up, everyone else elevated their play. Kelley Cain had a real presence, and that makes a huge difference for us. We did a good job with the high-low. Angie (Bjorklund) had 16 points. We didn’t play as deep off the bench, but we had good balance. This was one of Glory Johnson’s best games. She played with composure and played within herself. She got on the boards, and that was beneficial for us.”

(on the difference between this game and the game against Vanderbilt in Nashville earlier in the season):
“The difference was like night and day. They came out and scored on dribble penetration. They didn’t half run an offense that game. They were knocking down threes. They did what they wanted to. We made a run in the second half, but it wasn’t enough. Melanie Balcomb does a great job. She doesn’t have the size that we do, but they have heart, and they play within themselves. We looked at how we lost at Vanderbilt, and that gave us a plan for this game. We gave up the open three in the first half. Our scouting report was to make them beat us from the three. At halftime we were getting beat from the three, so we decided to take that away.”

(on rebounding):
“We did a great job on the boards tonight. We had size on the floor. Our rebounding has been inconsistent. We outrebounded Vanderbilt, 48-31, and that was very significant. Everybody was focused on defense and board play. On the board tonight, I put ‘defense’ then ‘boards’ then ‘Alex’ (Fuller) because this was the last time that she would play here (at Thompson-Boling Arena). We wanted to focus on getting a win on her Senior Night. Then I put (on the board) ‘fans’-we’ve got the greatest fans. Then I put ‘Holly’ (Associate Head Coach Warlick) because this is the team that Holly loves to beat. I didn’t even give a speech-I just pointed these things out.”

(on wearing orange):
“I thought, ‘Can I do this?’ I did take my orange shoes off.”

(on the win):
“I want to enjoy this until tomorrow. We’ll start getting ready to play Alabama tomorrow. The crowd was inspiring. I said, ‘We are not losing. We will find a way to win.’ Shekinna (Stricklen) didn’t start out well, but I challenged her. She was having trouble breathing.”

(on building on the win):
“This gives us confidence. This gives us a better feel for what we have to do. It shows that when we play together how successful we can be. I’m encouraged by that. I don’t often set goals, but I had a goal of 20 wins. I didn’t talk much about it. This team is young, but we found a way to win. I hope we’re not satisfied with that. We’ll go to the SEC Tournament and hope to build on that.”

(on whether this season has been one of her best coaching jobs):
“Oh, no. I’ve got a great staff, and they’ve done an awesome job. I couldn’t get this team to play 40 minutes. As a coach, you keep trying. I did get frustrated. Losing to Kentucky was probably the toughest. I didn’t do a good job of coaching.”

(on Angie Bjorklund):
“When Angie is playing with confidence, it takes a lot of pressure off the rest of the team. Shekinna (Stricklen) and Angie were knocking shots down, and that makes it difficult to double us up inside.”

Tennessee Players

Alex Fuller, forward

(On the significance of winning the game on her senior night):
“It was fun, especially getting a win against Vanderbilt. I think it’ll end up being one of the most memorable games that I’ve ever had. Everybody played well and everybody responded to the challenge Coach Summitt gave us at halftime.”

(On the coaching staff’s decision to wear orange blazers):
“It was nice. It was a good gesture for us to see them in all orange. Apparently, they’re going to carry that tradition out.”

(On what was said in the locker room at halftime):
“Coach Summitt said, ‘we’re not going to lose to Vanderbilt.’ We had five keys that we were playing for: defense, the boards, myself, the fans, and (assistant coach) Holly Warlick. I think all of us had that in the back of our minds.”

(On where this game ranks in her memories):
“It’s my senior night and I think because we responded and because we got through adversity and we played like this for our fans in the last game, I think it’ll definitely be one of the most memorable games I’ve had here.”

(On her emotions after the game):
“During the game, I tried not to get emotional because I knew we had an important game and I didn’t want my emotions to take my focus away. After the game, it was bittersweet – I’ll never play another game in front of these fans on this court again. I still know that we have hopefully 10 more games left so hopefully that will help me level off my emotions.”

(On how this season has affected her):
“It’s been frustrating at times but it’s not in my personality to give up on anybody or on any situation. I think that the young players seeing the faith I have in them has helped them continue along through adversity and tough losses and tough practices. I’ve always been there to help everybody out.”

(On Tennessee’s performance on the boards):
“That was our number one priority. Defense and boards win games so we wanted to win this game and we did what we had to do on the boards. I didn’t know that they out rebounded us by two so I’m glad we were able to beat them.”

Shekinna Stricklen, guard

(On her performance in the second half):
“In the first half, I was having trouble breathing but Coach was getting on me and told me that it wasn’t an excuse and she told me that I just had to play through it. I felt like I was letting my team down so went out there and gave it all I had and played through it.”

(On the leadership of Alex Fuller):
“She has a big time job in leading us and she’s doing it well. We really respect her and we knew that winning this game meant a lot to her.”

(On Tennessee’s outside shooting):
“It really helped us as a team. We were all feeling good about our shots and the inside game was doing well and we were feeling really confident.”

Kelley Cain

(On her knee rehabilitation):
“It definitely is getting better. (Team trainer) Jenny Moshak has been working with me every day and I’ve just been trying to get my right leg as strong as my left.”

(On the Lady Vols’ success from 3-point range):
“It helps us tremendously because we start our game off working our way inside then out. When the guards are on-point shooting, it takes the double teams off of the post players.”

(On what it meant to win the game for Alex Fuller):
“Alex is a senior and she’s invested so much into this program over the last four years. We felt like the least we could do was win this game for her. She works so hard and she definitely deserves it.”

(On the coaching staff’s decision to wear orange blazers):
“We weren’t expecting that. They didn’t have the jackets on the in locker room. We knew Pat was going to wear something but when they walked out we were a little surprised. It was definitely interesting.”

(On what it meant to win this game):
“We came out and played hard tonight. We know we can do it we just have to transfer it to every game and play for 40 minutes. It gives us a lot of confidence but we’re not going to let it go to our heads.”

(On earning revenge for the early season defeat at Vanderbilt):
“You learn the hard away against Vanderbilt. We had a tough week after that loss and we knew we didn’t want to do that again. We brought our ‘A’ game tonight.

(On what the coaching staff emphasized before the game):
“We had five keys to the game: defense, the boards, Alex (Fuller), the fans and (assistant coach) Holly Warlick. We definitely put a big on emphasis on rebounding.”